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Your student isn‘t hacking

17.12.2017

...they probably just know more than you.

I hear it very often that people get accused of hacking by their teachers, parents or even uneducated airport personnel because they use a dark themed text editor or terminal window with all the funny colors of the rainbow.

The problem is that people without much Linux- or actual developer experience see colorful texts on dark backgrounds as something like a „hacking terminal“. The reasons for that are popular movies like „Matrix“ and the time when everyone wanted to be a cool hacker who sees humans and trees in those weird numbers instead of, well, just numbers.

Most of the newer movies also got inspired by those things. We see super cool hacking interfaces with fancy buttons and colorful scrolling text everywhere. What these movies are trying to show us isn‘t what hacking looks like, it‘s what people want to see. Cool, action loaded hacking. If they would show what hacking looks like in reality, it would be very, very boring for most people.

If your student, children or a customer of your cafè has a weird looking computer screen with a dark background and green text everywhere, chances are high that they are just using a Matrix themed text editor because they think it‘s cool or a bright background would hurt their eyes.

In fact, most people who use a dark themed interface do this because it‘s much more comfortable for their eyes, especially in the dark. Now remember, developers often work until late at night, constantly staring at text. If you aren‘t someone like me who doesn‘t have a problem with bright colors in a dark room, you would probably prefer this, too. Funfact: I‘m using a dark themed editor for writing code as well.

The big problem with making false assumptions about someone being a hacker based on a weird looking screen you aren‘t familiar with is, that this gives that person a lot of trouble. Sometimes it even leads to problems with the police, who, to be honest, most of the time also don‘t know anything about that topic and continue making false assumptions based on the appearance of someones interface style.

Even if you‘re „just“ a teacher who accuses their student of hacking other computers or a database at your school, don‘t just scream „What you are doing is illegal, you know that?!“. Not if your only hint are a dark themed terminal and some other students who think that student is hacking something. Chances are high that these students know even less about it than you, as their teacher. Sadly many teachers, even in the IT area, don‘t know what a terminal is because they‘re often stuck in their Windows 98 knowledge where they never even used the commandline window which basically is the Windows equivalent of the typical Linux terminal.

Students and children should be comfortable learning from you, not being scared of getting accused of something they never did and suspended from school, being marked for their life and having a hard time with their family at home.

It also doesn‘t help that you are the „IT teacher“. That only makes random people who don‘t know anything about that topic trust you because „You obviously know what you‘re talking about“. Well, as you read my post to this line, you should‘ve realized that this often isn‘t the case, even if you are the person in question and you‘re believing that you‘re right without having actual knowledge and experience in „hacking“.

 

What I really want to say with my post is:
Just don‘t make the life of other people worse because of stupid assumptions. Thank you.

 

And a general tipp for students or people who want to work on their projects when they‘re waiting at the airport: Switch to a brighter theme, just in case. You really don‘t want to get in one of those situations.


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